microorganisms

Invisible Nature: The Glowing Squid

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The Hawaiian bobtail squid can cruise above its prey without casting a shadow—even on a moonlight night—thanks to its relationship with a bacterial partner.

This video was contributed by Annette Heist to bioGraphic, a magazine powered by the California Academy of Sciences to showcase both the wonder of nature and the most promising approaches to sustaining life on Earth.

Testing Lake Coeur d'Alene | Idaho Science Journal

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Tailings from more than a hundred years of mining have inhibited the growth of blue-green algae in Lake Coeur d’Alene. But as efforts to clean up the area’s watershed succeed, it also sets the stage for more blue-green algae growth. Scientific teams from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the State of Idaho use all the available tools to study the lake’s water quality.

Genetic Engineering and Working with DNA

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The technique illustrated in this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc., shows how scientists use natural processes and technological innovations to insert genes into loops of DNA called plasmids. Plasmids can then be introduced into bacterial or other cells, which will proceed to replicate the inserted genes or induce the cells to produce such valuable proteins as human insulin and growth hormone. This resource is part of the Biotechnology collection.

Contact Tracing | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 5

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Find out why contact tracing is such a crucial part of controlling outbreaks of infectious disease. Tracing back to patient zero during the West African Ebola outbreak shed light on Ebola's zoonotic origins and rapid spread. Contact tracing revealed that one initial "spillover" event—contact between a Guinean child and a bat in 2015—resulted in the largest Ebola outbreak the world had ever seen.

Seasonal Science: Asian Tiger Mosquito

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Has your backyard picnic ever been interrupted by an attack of mosquitoes? Don’t you just hate the itchy, red bumps that follow? But, did you also know these pests can carry viruses that could make you sick? In this video, learn how and why the invasive Asian tiger mosquito is even more problematic than other varieties. 

How Two Microbes Changed History | Eons

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What if I told you that, more than two billion years ago, some tiny living thing started to live inside another living thing … and never left? And now, the descendants of both of those things are in you?

Engineering Biofuels

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This video segment adapted from KQED's QUEST profiles the work of Jay Keasling, a synthetic biologist experimenting with ways to produce a cleaner-burning fuel from biological matter, using genetically modified microorganisms. Keasling's approach involves engineering microbes to eat simple sugars found in plant matter and then excrete fuel. The video explains the two techniques that may enable Keasling to accomplish this: metabolic engineering and directed evolution. It also suggests that creating biofuels from plants may actually contribute to global warming rather than help combat it.

Dodging Bullets | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 8

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The highly contagious and pandemic nature of Ebola was exposed in 2014, when an infected US diplomat flew from Liberia to Nigeria, exposing dozens of passerby and doctors along the way. Contact tracing and quarantine can contain an outbreak, but not before lives are lost in the course of getting these procedures in place. An army of contact tracers in Lagos sprung into action and prevented the outbreak from becoming a global catastophe.

Termites and their Palace of Poop | Deep Look

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Termites cause billions of dollars in damage annually—but they need help to do it. So they carry tiny organisms around with them in their gut. Together, termites and microorganisms can turn the wood in your house into a palace of poop.

The Search for the Earliest Life | Eons

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More than 4 billion years ago, the crust of the Earth was still cooling and the oceans were only beginning to form. But in recent years, we’ve started to discover that, even in this hostile environment, life found a way.

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